How a B2C Approach Can Boost Your B2B Business

Traditionally, many people divide marketing into two distinct approaches: B2B, and B2C. The strategies, tactics, and even channels for these two audiences differ significantly.

But what if there is no difference? What if, at their core, they are one and the same? And how can you use this knowledge to unlock your digital marketing efforts, and generate results you previously hadn’t even dreamt of?

The Classic B2B and B2C Marketing Approaches

Typically, people assume that the split between B2B and B2C is as follows: 

B2B Marketing

  • Target audience: B2B marketing targets other businesses, focusing on organizational buyers and decision-makers.
  • Sales cycle: The sales cycle in B2B marketing is typically longer and involves multiple stages including awareness, consideration, and decision. It often involves multiple decision-makers and a higher level of customization.
  • Emphasis on ROI: B2B marketing often focuses on demonstrating the potential return on investment from their product or service.

B2C Marketing

  • Target audience: B2C marketing targets individual consumers or end-users of a product or service.
  • Sales cycle: The sales cycle is generally shorter, with purchases made on impulse or after a few interactions.
  • Emotion-driven: B2C marketing often appeals more to the emotions and benefits of a product or service, focusing on happiness, relief, satisfaction, and enjoyment.
  • Channels: Influencer marketing is generally a significant part of B2C marketing campaigns

Where B2b Marketing Goes Wrong

Careful reading of the above “differences” shows exactly where B2B approaches often slip up.

  1. Marketing to a business: No one is ever marketing to “a business.” You’re marketing to an individual in that business, an individual who has fears, goals, and is as irrational as any other human being. This person (or people) also buy on impulse, or because they love your website, or you use AI, or you sound smarter than the competitors
  2. Sales cycle: Yes, the B2B sales cycle can be longer. But all too often, the decision to buy has already been made (or not), and the rest is just going through the motions. For example, if you’re selling software that will make the CFO look amazing to his peers and the Board, she will drive that purchase decision through every committee necessary. 
  3. Emphasis on ROI: ROI is important. It doesn’t form the basis of every business decision though. Going back to point #1, if the person you’re engaging with connects with you and your offering, ROI is just one of many factors influencing their decision.

How To Crack B2b Marketing 

Now, how can we apply a B2C approach to B2B marketing? We’re talking beyond segmentation or personalization, we’re talking about the very way you approach this audience. 

Storytelling

Like B2C, B2B brands can use storytelling to make their products resonate emotionally. For instance, case studies and customer stories shouldn’t just show metrics; they can tell a compelling story of challenges faced and overcome, focusing on the journey and the people behind the numbers. Here are some classic ways to leverage storytelling: 

1. Thematic Storytelling

Develop overarching themes that resonate with your audience’s aspirations or pain points. Themes such as innovation, sustainability, or digital transformation can be powerful if they align with your brand’s offerings and your customer’s goals. Use these themes consistently across various content pieces to build a coherent narrative over time.

2. Multi-Part Series

Create a series of content pieces that tell a story over time. This can be particularly effective on platforms like blogs, podcasts, or video series. Each piece should be able to stand alone but also contribute to a larger narrative arc that unfolds over several episodes or posts, keeping your audience coming back for more.

3. Customer Journey Mapping

Tell the story from the perspective of the customer’s journey. Start with the initial problem or need, followed by the discovery phase, the decision-making process, and the eventual solution and its impact. This approach helps potential customers visualize their path with your product or service and encourages them to take the next step.

4. Interactive Storytelling

Use interactive tools such as webinars, interactive infographics, or dynamic websites that allow the audience to choose their own adventure. By engaging directly with the content, the audience becomes a part of the story, which can help deepen their understanding and retention of the information presented.

5. Visual Storytelling

Leverage visual media like infographics, video testimonials, or animated explainers to tell your story. Visuals are processed quicker by the brain and can make complex information easier to understand. They also help in retaining the viewer’s attention longer than text-based content.

6. Historical Narratives

Draw parallels between historical events and modern-day challenges or innovations. This type of storytelling can be very engaging, providing a broader perspective and deeper insights into the industry or technology you are dealing with.

7. Future Scenarios

Create future-based scenarios that illustrate the potential future impact of adopting your products or solutions. This can involve a speculative look at future industry trends, technological advancements, or economic shifts, helping to position your company as a forward-thinking leader.

8. Analogies and Metaphors

Use analogies and metaphors to explain complex products, services, or data. By relating your offerings to well-understood concepts or universal experiences, you make your content more relatable and easier to understand.

9. Hero’s Journey

Adopt the classic “Hero’s Journey” narrative framework where the customer is the hero, your company is the mentor, and the product or service is the tool that helps them overcome their challenges. This structure is universally recognized and can be very effective in framing your customer as the central character of the story.

Personality

Brand personality is critical: B2B brands can benefit from developing a relatable brand voice that conveys personality and emotions. Whether through content, social media, or video, expressing the company’s values, mission, and vision can humanize the brand and create deeper connections. Try the following:

1. Define your voice: Develop a consistent brand voice that reflects your company’s personality. Whether it’s professional and authoritative, friendly and approachable, or innovative and forward-thinking, ensure that this voice is consistent across all content and platforms.

2. Visual identity: Align your visual branding elements—such as logos, colors, and typography—with the personality you want to convey. A consistent visual identity helps reinforce your brand’s character and makes it instantly recognizable.

3. Content tone and style: Adjust the tone and style of your content to match your brand personality. For example, if your brand is more laid-back and friendly, use conversational language and humor where appropriate. If your brand is more serious and professional, maintain a formal tone but ensure it’s still engaging and accessible.

4. Engage on social media: Use social media platforms to express your brand’s personality through regular updates, interactions with followers, and participation in industry conversations. 

5. Personalized interactions: Encourage your sales and customer service teams to embody the brand’s personality in their interactions. This helps in creating a coherent experience for clients and partners, reinforcing the brand’s identity.

Don’t lose the personality of the people behind the brand. This is where the magic lies. People want to speak to people, not businesses. 

Key Takeaways

We challenged the traditional separation of B2B and B2C marketing, suggesting that at their core, both approaches target human beings with emotions, goals, and impulses. Recognizing this can transform B2B marketing strategies and outcomes.

  1. Understand the Core Similarities: Despite the perceived differences in target audiences and tactics, both B2B and B2C marketing ultimately cater to individuals making decisions. Acknowledging this can help B2B marketers adopt more effective and engaging strategies.
  2. Leverage B2C Strategies in B2B: The article advocates for applying B2C methodologies in B2B contexts, particularly around personalization and emotional engagement. This includes using storytelling to connect on a human level and developing a relatable brand personality.
  1. Storytelling is a Tool for Engagement: Emphasizing various storytelling techniques, such as thematic storytelling, customer journey mapping, and using narratives like the Hero’s Journey, can make B2B communication more compelling and relatable.
  2. Build a Strong Brand Personality: Creating a distinct and consistent brand voice that resonates with the audience can significantly boost the brand’s appeal. This involves everything from the visual identity to the tone of content and social media interactions.
  3. Humanizing the Brand: The article emphasizes the importance of humanizing the brand by focusing on the people behind it, making the business not just a corporate entity but a collection of human stories and personalities.

Next time you’re crafting your B2B strategy and campaigns, try taking a B2C view of things for a while. A different angle, a new perspective. Here are the key takeaways:

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